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What Exactly Does It Mean to Stream in 4K?

Learn all about streaming in 4K, 8K, ultra HD, SD, and other formats.

Digital streaming has become one of the most popular ways for people to consume content. As technology has evolved, so have the available options for watching movies and TV shows over the Internet.

Since the advent of the HD TV, streaming quality has continued to improve, giving rise to many different formats for users to choose from. Starting at 720p and 1080p, improvements such as 4K, 8K, and Ultra HD soon became readily available. By understanding what it means to stream in 4K, consumers can choose the devices and applications that are right for them.

What Is 4K Streaming on a TV?

When streaming videos in 4K, consumers should make sure they’re using a compatible service. On-demand services such as Disney+, Hulu, HBOMax,
Amazon Prime Video, and Vudu all offer 4K content to consumers with the right equipment.

4K makes streaming more efficient by downloading the video in bite-sized chunks, as needed, before being deleted. This approach, however, requires a faster Internet connection. 

Whether you’re using a streaming stick or a specialized device, 4K is a great way to watch original content. 

Do You Need a 4K TV for 4K Streaming?

To watch 4K content, users will need access to a 4K TV, Internet speeds of at least 25Mbps, and a device capable of supporting the format.

Many devices can be used for streaming digital content. Whether they have access to 4K, full HD, or any HD content at all, however, depends on the service.

Some devices that are capable of 4K streaming include:
  • Roku 
  • Chromecast with Google TV
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick
  • Game consoles such as Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox
Check your device specifications to see if it supports 4K.

What Are Some of the Other Formats?

When streaming video content, the number of pixels that can be included in each square inch plays a crucial role in the viewing quality. 

At 4K, users get a resolution of 3840 × 2160.  This resolution makes viewing 4K streaming content much more impressive than 1080p and other HD formats.


8K streaming hasn’t yet become as popular as 4K, but users will get about 33 million pixels, making the display resolution 7680 × 4320. This results in the clearest possible picture available for consumer content.

Ultra HD

Ultra high-definition television (UHD) is a term used to refer to higher definition displays such as 4K and 8K that combine larger pixel numbers with conventional HD technologies to improve the viewing experience.


Standard definition (SD) is a more traditional TV format with fewer pixels than more modern streams. Generally, if a video’s quality is lower than HD, it’s considered SD. Most specifications assume 480p to be the upper limit of SD videos.


High-definition (HD) videos represented a major advancement in video quality over the previous generation. These videos are generally considered 720p and higher in terms of pixel count. Most modern video streaming services will offer 720p or better quality.

Full HD

Full HD is the upper echelon of standard HD capabilities that includes 1080p and 1080i specifications. Similar to simple HD, these formats provide a better viewing experience for those with larger, more modern televisions than SD could ever support.

What Is the Difference Between 4K and HD Streaming?

While modern televisions can handle a variety of formats, viewers will find that higher pixel counts make the image sharper and more detailed. 4K streaming uses four times as many pixels as a standard HD format and can have considerably more fluid picture quality.

Is 4K Streaming Worth It?

When deciding on what TV, streaming apps, and Internet service to use, many might wonder whether it’s worth it to invest in 4K streaming. For those who want the best quality picture with the highest clarity, 4K might be worth the added cost. However, for most users, standard and full HD are still the most common choices and provide an enjoyable, quality viewing experience.

Find the Best Streaming Services with SmartMove

For the best TV streaming experience, users need access to the right TV and streaming app as well as an Internet service provider with speeds capable of handling the added load. If you need to upgrade or switch services, consider using SmartMove to simplify the process.

SmartMove’s partnerships with cable and Internet providers allow us to keep users connected while they move or upgrade their ISP. Whether you need Internet, cable TV, mobile, or smart home services, SmartMove is here to get you started.

Our tools and resources make it easy for you to find the service that fits your needs. We’ll connect you with the best 4K, UltraHD, or FullHD services to get you watching the content you love.

Find out more about how SmartMove can help you connect to the best streaming services. Contact us today!

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